Jim Mullen: Shakespeare layeth an egg
What movie fan hasn’t wanted the chance to review movies?
Most of us have disagreed with a movie critic at least a time or two. He called it “formulaic,” but you loved it. She said it was wonderful, and you thought it was like watching paint dry. Critics like little art-house movies, preferably with subtitles. You like blockbusters.
But now, with Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and other streaming services, you finally get a chance to even the score: Anyone can rate and review movies. Your “thumbs up” can cancel the critic’s “thumbs down.” You can bestow five stars to any film, no matter what the pros think. At last, your opinion counts.
It used to be that film critics were the only people who got to watch more than a few movies a week. But now, everyone can see everything. Twenty years ago, where could you even SEE a documentary? Certainly not at a movie theater. Now there are hundreds of them, just a click away.
I’ve got hundreds of movies on my different watch-lists, more than I could ever watch in a lifetime — that is, if I want a life outside of watching movies. My lists have a combined 400 movies and TV shows waiting for me to watch. At two movies a week, that’s four years’ worth — and that’s if I never add another one, which is surely unlikely. Even if I watched one a day, I wouldn’t get to the bottom of my queue for over a year.
Many people watch much more than that — a movie or two a night, plus they binge-watch TV series on the weekends. These are the true fans: They’ve seen hundreds of films and thousands of TV shows. They subscribe to everything — HBO, Starz, Britbox, you name it. They watch on their phones in doctors’ waiting rooms, on buses and in airplanes. We all know people at work who seem to do nothing at their desks but watch videos. The content never runs out.
Some services let you search for videos by their ratings, and you can set a filter so it will only show you things rated four stars and above. After all, why would you want to watch anything that most people didn’t like? Of course, there are still differences of opinion. Most people may hate something you love, and vice versa.
My rating system is very simple. To me, a movie should only get five stars if it is one that you’d watch over and over again. Four stars if it was entertaining and I’d tell friends to see it. Three stars if it was OK, but nothing to write home about.
For example, I gave the last movie I saw three stars. It was fun to watch, clever and exciting. It was a “formula” movie, but what’s wrong with that? The formula works. I’ve seen hundreds of films like this before, but the actors were easy to look at, the director was having fun with it, and it was brand-spanking new. It wasn’t a bad film, it just wasn’t great.
“New” has a lot to do with ratings. Most of Shakespeare’s plays have been made into movies, so I looked up some of their ratings. “King Lear” only got three-and-a-half stars. “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” on the other hand, has four-and-a-half stars. In what world is that possible? It turns out that most of the filmed versions of Shakespeare’s plays are not rated as highly as “Avengers: Endgame” (four-and-a-half stars) or “Aquaman” (four stars). “The Tempest” only gets three.
Apparently, Shakespeare has jumped the shark. If only he would come out with something new, something fresh, something with a little pizazz. A buddy film, perhaps. Or something with a car chase, or a superhero. “The Avenger of Venice”? “Batman of Verona”?
Or a horror movie: “A Midsummer’s Nightmare.” It’d be ratings gold.
Contact Jim Mullen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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